Call-Ups or Hang-Ups: Kansas City Royals, Louis Coleman and Friends

Once again it is collaborative post time here on Call to the Pen.  This month’s topic is September call-ups.  To get the ball rolling, I posed the following question to each of our Lead Writers, “Which player do you want your team to call-up in September and why?”  It is a simple question but I think you will find the responses to be very diverse.

Taking the path less traveled this month, I decided to post each team’s write-up individually instead of grouping them by league or division as we have done in the past.  To mix things up further I decided to chime in with my own thoughts on each team.

To get things started we turn to our Kansas City Royals site, Kings of Kauffman, to get the thoughts of Lead Writer Michael Engel and of yours truly.

Michael’s Take:

A week from today, Major League Baseball’s active rosters expand and I have a few players I want to see on the field for Kansas City. Unfortunately, none of them are currently on the 40 man roster. I won’t get into who should go, but there is some dead weight to cut, especially since it’s worth seeing what these youngsters can do with a month of (potential) playing time. The nominees are:

RHP Louis Coleman – The ace of LSU’s championship team, Coleman has succeeded at every level the Royals have put him through. Currently in Omaha, he has a 2.70 ERA and a measly, inconsequential 11.1 K/9 rate. No big deal. I thought Coleman should have been called up when the Royals filled Scott Podsednik‘s departed roster spot, but they instead opted for Greg Holland. Coleman’s got a shot to be a strong setup man or closer someday, in my view.

OF David Lough – Lough has been on fire the last month, and if not for a constant logjam in the outfield, may have had a shot or two to be called up at some point. He’s not flashy, but Lough has double digits in homeruns, doubles, triples and stolen bases for Omaha in 2010 and can play all three outfield spots if necessary. I think he’d be a fan favorite once he made it up to KC. He only has a .786 OPS this year overall, but in August it’s gotten up to 1.036 for the month.

UT Ed Lucas – Now that Kila Ka’aihue is on the active roster, the new campaign on twitter moves from #FreeKila to #EmancipateEd. Lucas is 28 and has never seen the big leagues, but he’s played every position except catcher and pitcher. Sounds like someone older on the 40 man roster now, perhaps someone with an expiring contract. Food for thought. Lucas has a line of .307/.394/.505/.899 in 355 plate appearances for Omaha.

LHP Tim Collins – Since coming over from Atlanta, Collins has made the Pacific Coast League his you-know-what, and at 5’7″ 155 lbs, you’d never guess it. Collins and his career 13.4 K/9 rate should get a look in September.

3B Mike Moustakas – I almost hesitate to go there, because it seems just too soon. Moustakas had to put the bust label to rest after a rough 2009, and he not only did just that, he vaulted himself into discussion as one of the top prospects in the game. After a slow start in Omaha after a promotion in mid-July from Double A Northwest Arkansas, Moose is hitting .281/.303/.467/.770 in Triple A with seven homers. He’s put up two 4-hit games in the last week. It’d also be nice to get a taste of the future a little early.

In order to facilitate the debut of any or all of the five, some roster moves would be necessary. I could feasibly see one or two players being dropped off the 40 man roster, though I wouldn’t bet on it happening. C’est la vie.

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My Take:

I’m on board with the promotions of Coleman and Lough though I’d be just as content to see them in the mix to make the Opening Day roster to start the 2011 season and make their major league debuts at that point.  On these two, I’m going to have to hang-up and wait for them to earn their spots in Surprise, Arizona during Spring Training.

I’m not a fan of giving older guys call-ups (sorry Scott Thorman), but in the case of Ed Lucas I’m willing to make an exception.  Not only would it be great to see a guy who has toiled in the minors for seven years finally break through and play in the majors, it would also make Willie Bloomquist even more expendable than he already is.  Wee Willie has been very, very expendable from the moment Dayton Moore gave him a two-year deal prior to last season, so anything that might get him off the roster sooner rather than later has my complete support. As an added bonus, Lucas has earned his chance and would be hard pressed to play worse than Bloomquist the rest of the way.  Ed Lucas would provide an upgrade and give the Royals a look at a potential cheap utility option for 2011 and beyond.  Definite call-up in my book especially if it sends Willie Bloomquist packing a month early.

Tim Collins does have an incredible 13.4 K/9 in but he’s just getting his feet wet in AAA having reached the level only after being acquired from the Braves (along with Gregor Blanco and Jesse Chavez) in exchange for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. In his first 15.0 innings as a member of the Omaha Royals he’s turned in a 0.60 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 9.0 SO/9.  What gets me even more excited about Collins is the fact that his 3.6 BB/9 matches his 3.6 H/9.  Just typing his stats make me a little giddy, but it is only 15.0 innings.  I’d like to see him finish out the season in Omaha.  The O-Royals finish up their regular season on September 6th, but they are in the mix to make the playoffs. At 72-59, they currently sit 2.5 games back of the Iowa Cubs in the PCL American North division.  With that in mind, I’d like to see Dayton Moore and the rest of the Royals front office keep the Triple-A roster intact to make a run at the playoffs.  There is a lot to be said for being a part of a winner, and like Lough and Coleman, Collins should be given every opportunity to make the Opening Day roster next season. With all of that said, if September 7th rolls around and Tim doesn’t have anything else going on, I’d be on board with a call-up.

Mike Moustakas … With the wounds of the Royals rushing Alex Gordon to the majors so fresh in my mind I can’t conceive of a reason why Dayton Moore and the rest of his brain-trust would entertain calling-up one of their future cornerstones.  As Michael mentioned, Moose has recovered from a slow start in Triple-A to put up solid numbers, but I think more seasoning and experience would go a long way to ensure his success at the major league level.  Among the things I’d like to see him improve upon in Omaha next year are his splits against LH and RH pitching, his bizarre Home/Road splits, and his defense.  If the O-Royals miss the playoffs, Dayton should give Moose a little downtime and then send him off to play fall or winter ball somewhere to continue his development.  This one is a lead-pipe lock hang-up for me.  I’ve waited for the next wave of franchise saving Royals to reach Kansas City this long, I’m sure I can wait another year or so.

In addition to the 5 players Michael mentioned, there are two others in Triple-A that I believe merit some September consideration.  So let’s throw C Lucas May and LHP Blaine Hardy into the conversation.

The Royals selected Blaine as a 22nd round pick in the 2008 draft and while he doesn’t have the strikeout stuff of Coleman or Collins, he has found a great deal of success in professional baseball thus far. After pitching primarily out of the Burlington Royals (A) bullpen last season, he skipped over Wilmington and landed in Double-A with Northwest Arkansas to start 2010.  After a 0.69 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 3.8 H/9 in 26.0 innings he got bumped up to Omaha.  Since joining the O-Royals he’s pitched 60.2 innings with a 3.12 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 2.81 SO/BB.  While they are impressive on their own, those numbers are a little misleading since he’s been starting games recently with less success than what he had in the bullpen.  I’d like to see Blaine get a look in the Royals bullpen next month.  He’s just one of those guys that I’ve got a gut feeling about though admittedly my gut has been wrong plenty of times before (see Davies, Kyle).

(Editors Note: Michael did a write up on Blaine Hardy a couple of weeks ago if you want to check it out by clicking here)

Lucas May joined the Royals shortly before the trade deadline when Dayton Moore somehow talked the Dodgers into giving him TWO prospects for the services of Scott Podsednik.  With the wet-noodle bat of a very old Jason Kendall behind the dish on most days in Kansas City, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why May is so appealing.  Tack on the fact that he’s hit 0.271/.342/.514 in 79 PA for the Omaha Royals and regardless of his subpar defense, I’m sold that he needs and deserves a call-up next month.

The fact that Michael and I identified 7 players as potential September call-ups is evidence of two things.  The obvious one is that the major league team in Kansas City is not very good and has a lot of holes.  You can make a case that each of the 7 players we identified would upgrade the team if added to the 25-man roster let alone the expanded rosters.  The less obvious one is that the Royals farm system is getting ready (finally) to bear fruit.  Not only do the Royals have arguably the top minor league system in baseball right now, the first wave is starting to knock on the door.

Tags: AL East Alex Gordon Blaine Hardy David Lough Ed Lucas Greg Holland Gregor Blanco Jesse Chavez Kansas City Royals Kila Ka'aihue Kyle Farnsworth Louis Coleman Lucas May Mike Moustakas MLB Rick Ankiel Scott Podsednik Scott Thorman Tim Collins Willie Bloomquist

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